Eric D. Snider

Friday After Next

The danger of being rich and powerful is that you are able to do huge, stupid things, and no one can stop you. If you want to build the world's largest airplane and call it the Spruce Goose, fine, Howard Hughes. If you want to let E! follow you around with a camera and make a TV show of your life, go ahead, Anna Nicole Smith. If you want to make a second sequel to a movie no one remembers in the first place, that's your prerogative, Ice Cube. It's your money.

"Friday After Next" is Mr. Cube and friends' latest attempt at comedy, though it is a stretch to call it that when the only people laughing are, in fact, Mr. Cube and friends. Like so many films by so many "Saturday Night Live" alumni, the "Friday" movies seem like 90-minute inside jokes, full of things that were probably hysterical if you were there, and if you were high.

The latest film takes place on a Friday, natch, and on Christmas Eve. (For you fans of the calendar, this means the film takes place either in 1999 or 2004.) A burglar dressed like Santa Claus has robbed the apartment of Craig (Ice Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps), cousins who are the heroes of these movies, heroism being measured in terms of how much pot a character smokes. (I.e., these two smoke more than anyone else in the film; ergo, they are the heroes.)

Craig and Day-Day must shake of the embarrassment of being robbed by Kris Kringle, however, as today is their first day on the job as security guards at a local strip mall. In this strip mall is a barbecue restaurant owned by their fathers, twitchy Willie (John Witherspoon) and his argumentative brother Elroy (Don "D.C." Curry). This convenience of location will figure heavily into the plot later, or at least it would if there were a plot for it to figure into.

Also, there's a neighbor named Damon who just got out of prison, and who turned gay while he was there. This, along with Willie's gastro-intestinal problems, is endlessly funny/disgusting, depending on your point of view.

Watching "Friday After Next" is like watching a minstrel show, but without the dignity. Most of the characters are broad, jittery personages who shuck and jive like figures in a comedy sketch. But when Ice Cube wrote the script, he neglected to include any actual comedy for them to perform. What surfaces instead are lame, ludicrous attempts that annoy more than they entertain. Nothing is sadder than a clown with nothing funny to do, and this movie is full of them.

Grade: D

Rated R, abundant harsh profanity, a lot of drug use, some crude humor, some sexuality

1 hr., 25 min.

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